Thursday, December 24, 2009

Great Plains Vegetable Conference

The conference is held in St. Joseph, Missouri, and is organized every year by Extension educators from five states: Missouri, Kansas, Iowa, Nebraska, and South Dakota. The conference will be held next month on January 7-9, 2010.

The Great Plains Vegetable Conference is open to everyone, from backyard gardeners to commercial vegetable growers. Topics cover not only vegetables, but also small fruits and flowers. There are also presentations targeted toward organic growers.

The event begins with workshops on Thursday. The first explores the use of high tunnels in vegetable and fruit production. The speakers this year include organic growers from New York and Arkansas who have utilized hoop houses on their farms very successfully. You will also hear from a panel of growers and Extension specialists who will provide their experiences and perspectives on high tunnels.

The second pre-conference workshop looks at a popular method of marketing known as Community Supported Agriculture (CSA). Several growers and one Extension specialist will explore topics such as getting started with a CSA, growing the food for a CSA, and marketing considerations.

This year, a third pre-conference workshop was added, titled “Growing Your Farm Profits: Understanding the Marketplace and Positioning Your Farm to Succeed”. This session will explore the business end of farming, including topics such as deciding what to sell, who to sell it to, how to set prices, determining your true costs, and marketing your produce.

The main conference begins on Friday. There are four concurrent tracks to choose from, so there is usually something of interest for everyone.

Some of the tracks include organics, fruit production, greenhouses, vegetables, bees, the new GAP policies, cut flowers, farmers markets, and more. On Saturday, there will also be a special day-long track for beginning vegetable farmers.

There will be approximately 30 exhibitors available to provide information about seeds, irrigation, horticulture equipment, chemicals, and other topics. Meals, break refreshments, and handouts will be included in the registration fee.

The conference will be held on the campus of Missouri Western State University. For more information about the conference and a registration form, call the Buchanan County Extension office at (816) 279-1691. You may also register on-line and find additional information on our web site at:

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